An invasion of privacy or just freedom of press?

The story dominating headlines all around the world last week was about the naked pictures of Prince Harry that emerged from a recent trip to Las Vegas. Whilst in the beginning the story was about whether or not people agreed with what Harry was doing, it quickly changed direction on Friday when the pictures we were all talking about were printed in The Sun. The debate is now about whether this is an invasion of the Prince’s privacy or just the freedom of the press to print what they believe is in the public’s interest.

The argument about what is in the public’s interest and what is in the interest of the public has been ongoing for many years with the decision ultimatley coming down to each individual’s morals and beliefs.  Is it really in the public’s interest for a newspaper to print such images?  Or do they have an ulterior motive because they think that by being the first paper to print them they will make a great deal of money?

David Dinsmore, managing editor of The Sun, has defended his decision to print the pictures and believes that if we have all been able to freely access the pictures online then why should they not be printed in a newspaper. In my opinion, when the pictures were made available online people could choose whether they looked at them or not, printing them on the front page of one of the most popular tabloid newspapers means people no longer have that choice.

Currently, we are awaiting the results of the Leveson enquiry into media ethics and how the press should be regulated going forward. It will be interesting to see how these results affects images like this being published in future. The fact that only one newspaper has printed these pictures already shows the impact the Leveson enquiry is having.

Some may think the press are looking at what really is in the interest of the public and choosing what content they publish so that it is relevant and interesting to their readers. Others will say this shows that the enquiry is scaring organisations into not publishing content because of their fear of what consequences they might face; ultimately, leading to press that does not work in the interest of the public.

Going forward it will be interesting to see whether any other newspapers print these images or any other images that may appear. It will also be interesting to see how the Press Complaints Commission reacts to the situation. Someone once said “it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a second to ruin it”, I wonder what impact these pictures have on the reputation of the Royal Family and in particular, the reputation Harry has worked hard on building in the past few years.

What do you think? By printing these pictures, has the newspaper invaded Harry’s privacy? Or is it in our interest to see them?

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Can generation Y manage social media?

After starting my first job at The Works just over six weeks ago, an article published by Inc. magazine last week really annoyed me. The article, titled ‘11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media’,made the point that young people should not be left in charge of an organisation’s social media profiles as they cannot be trusted to use it correctly.

Part of my role at The Works is to develop the agency’s social media presence as well as support social media activity across the agency’s client base. After turning 21 just over three weeks ago, I fit into the age bracket that the author believes is irresponsible.

The article states that 23 year olds aren’t mature enough to handle social media accounts and don’t have enough understanding of online etiquette. It also states that you can’t control what the individual’s friends post to your sites and talks about the person keeping your passwords and locking you out of your profiles.

I agree that not everyone aged 23 has the skills to effectively manage social media for an organisation. However, the situations discussed in the article are very extreme cases and portray the idea that no 23 year old can effectively manage social media accounts.

In reality, however, there are a large number of people in the given age bracket who can and who, the majority of the time, can manage social media better than their elders. People of my age group, those slightly older and definitely those younger than me have grown up with social media and use it as a primary form of communication. We have been bombarded with messages from other organisation’s using social media and understand what makes good or bad online communication. Anybody can post negative or inappropriate comments to a site, whether they are friends of the 23 year old managing your accounts or not.

There are some valid points made in the article and I agree with some of them to a certain extent. However, I believe age is just a number and doesn’t reflect maturity or ability. The decision about whether a person is responsible enough or not to manage a social media account comes down to each individual and the situation. It is not possible to tarnish all people of the same age with the same maturity level or ability to manage a situation.

I’m sure there are a number of views about this topic, what do you think? Do you agree with the author or not?

The day the Olympic Torch came to Gateshead…

Following the Olympic Torch’s journey through the North East, I was asked by MSN Sport UK (@msnsport) to write a short blog post discussing my experience of the Torch Relay.

The post I wrote describing the Torch’s lap of Gateshead International Stadium can be found here.

A short video I captured of the Torch entering Gateshead International Stadium can also be found here.

Are Twitter and Facebook the new call centres?

Last Friday night, I was evacuated from the Odeon cinema in the Metrocentre half way through a film. Whilst being stood outside for nearly 20 minutes with no Odeon staff around to ask what was going on, I took to Twitter to voice my complaint. After being let back into the cinema and finding out from a member of staff it had been a fire at The Handmade Burger Company next door, I tweeted again. “So after a long time waiting it turns out it was a fire @handmadeburger“.

On Monday morning, I received a tweet from The Handmade Burger Company (@HandmadeBurger) asking me to email them with further information about my complaint. A few emails later, I was told I would receive drinks vouchers from the company as a way of apologising for my inconvenience.

On the same day, I read an article on the BBC news website asking if “Twitter and Facebook are changing the way we complain?”. This got me to thinking, pre social media would I have complained about the evacuation? Or would I have just got on with it?

We’ve all experienced some form of poor customer service, but would that normally lead us to calling the company’s customer service department to complain? I think not. Social media has given people the opportunity to complain there and then, on the spot, and this can have a huge impact on companies.

One of the first things I did after being evacuated on Friday night was to get my phone out and take to Twitter to voice my opinion. Something I would never have thought about doing a year ago. Social media is no longer for just communicating with friends.

In the BBC news article, it discussed a number of cases where people have taken to Twitter and other social networking sites to complain, with problems being resolved very quickly. It seems like the idea of public humiliation is what causes companies to take problems a lot more seriously online. It poses the question though, why do we need to publicly humiliate a company for them to take us seriously and react?

If companies didn’t realise before, surely they realise now how important social media is for their relationships with customers. I’ve still had no reply from the Odeon Metrocentre, however Handmade Burger Company handled my complaint very well and I look forward to receiving my vouchers and dining with them in the future!

The CIPR Internship and Work Placement toolkit

With only eight weeks left at university, my hunt for a job in PR is fully underway. In the past three years, the need for graduates to gain experience in their chosen field has dramatically increased, but with this has come a number of issues.

The problems surrounding unpaid internships and work placements have caused major controversy during the past year, with Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg both supporting the move to fairer access to internships in a social mobility strategy.

Yesterday, as a way of tackling these issues, the CIPR launched an official guidance toolkit. Defining the various types of placements, setting out what both employer and student should expect from the time and with guidance on areas like pay and expenses, the document hopes to tackle some of these issues. The aim of the document is to support organisations in creating internships and work placements that will allow those wishing to start a career in PR to gain as much practical experience as possible.

During the past three years, I have been fortunate enough to gain a variety of practical experience in PR, with time spent both in-house and agency. Both placements, although unpaid, have been successful with no negative issues arising. However, I know from speaking to others on my course that this is not always the case.

Leaving university with no job to go to is a scary prospect to be faced with. Having the opportunity to gain practical experience during a six-week placement after graduating can give many students a helping hand. However, when faced with travel costs of £40 per week, little or no structured training from the organisation and duties above and beyond student capabilities can the placement really give students the vital experience needed, or does it only allow students with parental funding to flourish?

Hopefully, the document set out by the CIPR will help to diminish the chances of this happening and lead to a fairer and more  productive internship system.

I understand that, as a student, my perspective on work experience will be very different to people currently working in the industry and I would be interested in hearing what others think. To view the document in full, click here.

2011 ad of the year

It’s that time of year again, when all of the programmes on TV start to reflect on the happenings of the past year. Last night, it was the turn of ITV’s ad of the year programme.

8000 ITV viewers were asked to vote for their favourite ad of the year and number one? The Cravendale cats with thumbs advert.

In my eyes this advert got a well deserved first place. Not only does it make you laugh every time you see it, you also have a sneaky look at your own cat sitting quietly in the corner, wondering if they will ever grow thumbs and do the same!  Genius.

I was both happy and surprised to see that the Yeo Valley farmers advert wasn’t mentioned in the top 20. Although I find it really annoying to watch, I don’t think anyone can say it doesn’t do its job. We definitely spent quite a lot of time in 2011 talking about!

I can’t wait to see what the crop of 2012 adverts will bring to the table!

Top 100 Graduate Employers

I’m now just over half way through the first semester in my final year at University and this week the pressure has really been upped. The assignment deadlines set nine weeks ago are quickly creeping up and this week I pitched my PR proposals for my two practical project clients, the time really is flying by! Before I know it I will be handing in my final pieces of uni work and heading for the Stadium of Light ready to graduate and move into full-time employment.

The thought of going out and finding a job really began to hit home a few weeks ago, there is constant talk in the media about unemployment figures amongst young people and I think near enough every one of the 335,000 people who will graduate in 2012 all have the same fears about leaving university in at least £9000 worth of debt and having no job to move into.

Yesterday I picked up a free guide at university called ‘The Top 100 Graduate Employers’. After looking through the guide and the graduate schemes available I began to feel a little bit better about the prospect of getting a job after leaving university. In the year 2011/2012 recruiters expect to increase their graduate intake by a further 4.6percent, news to both mine and the other 335,000 2012 graduates.

I found the guide really helpful, I didn’t even realise some of the firms mentioned in the guide had graduate schemes! Each of The Top 100 firms has an individual page with details of the number of graduate opportunities they have available, the location of the vacancies, the areas they recruit in as well as information late starting salaries, benefits, application deadlines and information on the roles and how you can apply.

I would recommend anyone graduating next year to try and get a hold of one of these guides- they are definitely worth a look! More information can be found on The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers website. Good luck to all 334,999 of you!

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